In 2018 we created a program for our team to enhance our commercial real estate subject matter expertise. The first “CRE Stars” program launched that spring, and it covered topics such as multifamily, mixed-use, office (development and brokerage), residential, retail and construction. We invited clients and friends of the firm to come to our office or lead tours around their properties to immerse our team into the world of real estate.
The program has been going strong ever since – including a virtual program in 2020 – and we now have graduates able to discuss real estate details with clients, media and partners. Being an agency with 70% of our clients in the real estate industry, this deep knowledge is imperative. In order to know what a story is, what will resonate with the media and with key audiences on social media, we need context. We want our team, from top to bottom, to understand our clients’ businesses and the industries in which they operate, as well as to be aware of trends playing out across those industries.
Each CRE Stars class typically consists of Wilbert employees who have been with us less than one year. Theyhey have been exposed to CRE, but may not have the foundational knowledge needed to fully comprehend the intricacies of the industry.
This year, our 9-week program was filled with tours, experts and a new book to read! In a pre-program survey, 87% of participants ranked their CRE knowledge as 5 or below on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most knowledgeable. After the course, 100% of participants ranked their knowledge as 5 or above – with 72% ranking it above 7.
During the course, participants heard from CIDs, developers, retail and office brokers, architects and capital markets experts. We always start each program with an overview of Atlanta, which this year came from Jennifer Ball with Central Atlanta Progress. We talked about the history of the city and real estate throughout the years. We visited an industrial property with Robinson Weeks – Gillem Logistics Center – and toured an office building – Circa 730 – with Lincoln Property Group. To wrap up the program, each team member does a final presentation based on a prompt about a company in need of real estate advice.
We’ll continue to discuss real estate topics in our continuing education program, which will include sessions on tax abatements and project milestones, so far. From the first day of onboarding at The Wilbert Group, team members begin their immersion into the real estate field. Through CRE Stars and ongoing work in the field, we’re always learning about the industry. This year’s group will graduate from the program soon and be even more prepared to manage public relations and social media for our clients!